Morgan Hoffman makes strides in return to PGA Tour

Cromwell, Connecticut – Sometimes Chelsea Hoffman wakes up and thinks she’s on a houseboat, with the sound of waves lapping on the shore.

She and her husband, Morgan, and their service dog, a Doberman named Yama, are covered in their 35-foot Sunseeker RV this week, parked in their friends’ backyard in Old Saybrook. Buddy, mean dads can Hoffman, Sam “Ghost” Spector.

“It’s beautiful,” Morgan said after firing a 2-under 68 in the first round of the Travelers’ Championship, his last start in a medical supplement, where he needs a solo fourth or better. “You get up and look around and it’s just water. The birds are chirping. It’s so peaceful.”

You may remember that Hoffman was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 2016 and left the tour three years later.

Frustrated by the limitations of Western medicine, he embarked on a therapeutic journey that included psychedelics, yoga, surfing, vegetarianism, breathing, and a grape cleanse. He went from Nepal to buy ayahuasca (a hallucinogenic drug) to buy a house in Costa Rica due to the attributes of the healthy blue zone.

He’s not the same guy who reached #1 globally as an amateur, was an all-American in Oklahoma, and played a full round from 2013-17.

And after…

“I’m not ready to be just a golfer for the weekend,” he said while drinking a smoothie outside the club earlier this week. “I added 7mph. It’s exciting, because when I left the Tour, I fell back to 104 with the driver, which isn’t ideal. I’ve seen the biggest jump in the last month and a half, in the gym, lifting hard, eating a lot, and restore confidence.”

Juice, by the way, is the only thing Hoffman can eat from the players’ dinner. He limits his menu to raw food until dinner, when he allows cooked vegetables such as spaghetti, lentils, spinach, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms. He and Chelsea prepare meals in their RV, where it was on Wednesday night, to check the definition of Morgan’s right pectoral muscle.

That muscle began to atrophy early in his freshman year at Oklahoma, and he spent much of his old TOUR career searching for a diagnosis. He was pricked, induced, and sampled. The doctors assumed, they eluded, and they disappeared. For years, they had no answers.

Once they did, and he was diagnosed with brachiofacial muscular dystrophy, Hoffmann was told there was not much he could do. He disagreed, and embarked on a comprehensive journey barely touching the club. His return to compete against the best players in the world has been an inspiration.

“He gets feedback from the players and the bags in his wardrobe,” Chelsea said. “Because everyone is on their own healing journey.”

The most exciting part of Hoffmann’s journey, the part that somewhat jumped off the pages of a file Golf Digest Profile, it was an ayahuasca hallucinogenic remedy. He remembers a “geometric butterfly” and a moth feeding him vine, dirt, trees and berries, after which the vine was pulled from him, an elephant appeared, and black smoke began to flow from his mouth.

“I felt as if the disease was coming out of me,” he said.

Hoffman has always been multi-talented. He’s a pilot (but has sold his plane), and has an interest in a clothing company, Greyson. He wore a cool plaid golf shirt and pink pants for the first round of the Travelers on Thursday, and his flowing blond locks shaped a man’s shape accentuating the back of his black hat, the crown of which is marked by his organization’s plus sign logo.

Chelsea said: “I turned around a bit this morning and was late, but I saw him from afar and thought, ‘It must be him!'”

She laughed watching the action at TPC River Highlands with a few of Hoffmann’s friends, including one of his Greyson partners. Hoffman is also involved in a project that aims to make it easier to cover non-traditional medical insurance. Long-term, he and Chelsea plan to open a solar-powered treatment center in their certified home in Costa Rica. They recently closed to the ground. “I’ve never seen someone with more interests than him,” she said.

In a way, Hoffman is like any other pro on the tour. When he’s not in Costa Rica, he lives in Jupiter, Florida, where he plays outside the Bear Club and hangs out with his friends Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas. The house is not for Hoffman but his mother Lauren, a flight attendant and rarely at home. She is expected to be on site later this week, to encourage him.

Being on Jupiter has its benefits, one of which is that Hoffman used to work at Coastal Performance in Palm Beach Gardens. He’s not the same person who missed a cut-one at RBC Heritage in Hilton Head in April, his first tour since the fall of 2019. It’s bigger and stronger, and it’s part of a concerted effort to catch up with its old rivals.

“They just opened a new gym,” he said. “It’s really cool. It has three different hitting holes, TrackMan, a green field that you can adjust to the slope, a pose lab, and a gym with a great big turf area for agility. Medicine layups. Jumping. Heavy lifting, dead lifts, work.” Kettle bell, Turkish wear, heavy load for full body stability, rolling.

He added, “Warm-ups are tough, usually a terminator like a propeller bike, ropes, or sled push-ups. I’ve put on nearly 20 pounds of muscle in the past three months.”

He’s also made an interior makeover, something Chelsea has noticed at Hilton Head.

“He thought he needed a last pit bird and cheated on him,” she said. “It was frustrating, and there was a time when it would ruin his entire week. But he was ready to do other things and meet other people almost immediately.”

Instead of frowning, they took Sunseeker to Colorado for a long walk and it snowed.

Three weeks into the RBC Heritage, Hoffman shot 73-80 at Wells Fargo in Maryland. This wasn’t close to making the cut, but the week, while something was a disaster, gave him more information.

He said, “I was still shorter, and with the rain and cold getting shorter. I was hitting 3 irons in those greens. That was a huge incentive for me to step it up in the gym.”

Chelsea is pregnant, and is due in late October. It would be a free birth, in the couple’s mountaintop home in Costa Rica, without the usual medical assistance. Boy? girl? It will be a surprise. Their house is being renovated and they will be back in July. This could also be a surprise – a pleasant surprise, with any luck. Morgan’s pectoral muscle is back. His game is back.

If he smokes a hot Friday and keeps going into the weekend, he can make his way to more rounds, or some sponsor exemptions. He could end up again on the Korn Ferry Tour. But he will cross that bridge when he comes to it; For now, it’s about embracing the present moment as he finds his way back to a version of his old life.

He wants to bring the lessons he learned on his healing journey to others, and that includes his old classmates at TOUR. He is particularly fascinated by the treatment of supposedly incurable diseases. It remains to be seen where competitive golf perfectly fits into his life, but in an ideal world, you’d help him fund a recovery center on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

His start at 2-under at the Travelers was a good start. He will need to keep going.

“It could have been really good,” he said. “I feel really comfortable on this course.”

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